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By Hammad Zaidi | January 7, 2014

Welcome to the 193rd edition of Going Bionic, and more importantly, welcome to 2014! I hope you had a wonderful New Years. My wife and I rang in 2014 by watching Sprout with our two and a half year-old twin girls Zoe and Lena. While our evening was abundantly tame, it was also blissfully relaxing.

Today we’re examining a curious trend that has recently emerged: major studios are releasing key horror and supernatural films in January, instead of October.

With Paramount’s Paranormal Activity: The Lost Ones having just been released last Friday, January 3, Fox’s Devils Due coming out on January 17, and The Weinstein Company/Dimension Film’s Amityville scheduled to be released on January 2, 2015, studios are finding January an opportune time to release horror and supernatural based films.


That’s what we’re examining today. So, without further ado, let’s look at a few January releases from the recent past, and discuss why studios are choosing to release them after New Years as opposed to before Halloween.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
This $5 million dollar budgeted film released on January 3, snagged second place at the box office by earning $18,343,611 in 2,867 theaters, giving it a $6,398 per screen average. The interesting part here is that this film was the first of the Paranormal Activity series to be released in January. Even the next edition, Paranormal Activity 5, is being released on October 24th of this year. While the $18.343 million dollar opening weekend was the smallest of any Paranormal Activity film, it still nearly quadrupled its production budget in its first three days of release, making it a scary success.

Mama (2013)
Universal Studios released this $15 million dollar film on January 18, 2013. It won the weekend box office by earning $28,402,310 in 2,647 theaters, giving it a $10,700 per screen average. The picture went on to make $71,628,180 domestically and another $74,800,000 internationally, giving it a worldwide total of $146,428,180.

The Devil Inside (2012)
Paramount Studios released this $1 million dollar picture on January 6, 2012. The film won its opening weekend by earning $33,732,515 on 2,285 screens, which is a $14,763 per screen average. The Devil Inside went on to make $53,261,944 domestically and another $48,496,546 internationally, totaling $101,758,490 worldwide.

Now that we’ve laid out how three recent horror/supernatural films released in January performed at the box office, let’s go over three reasons why studios chose to release them in January, instead of giving them traditional October releases.

Counterprogramming Against Oscar Releases
Major film studios are starting to release horror/supernatural films in January because doing so offers moviegoers alternative programming to the largely dramatic films jockeying for Oscar nominations. With the litany of dramas and historical films that are released from November through Christmas Day (which is the last day a film can be released and still be considered for an Academy Award), moviegoers are supporting horror and supernatural films in January more than ever before. Thus, what was once considered to be a traditionally frigid month at the box office is now turning into winter’s “hot spot” for genre film releases.

Less Competition In January
Releasing a film in January offers less competition. This is further exemplified by the fact that major studios have vowed to make few films in 2014 and beyond. Thus, a January release will have the opportunity to thrive, because it won’t have to fight a slew of competing releases at the box office.

More Unencumbered Weeks to Thrive At The Box Office
One of the most advantageous aspects of releasing a film in January is that if it kills it at the box office, it will have several weeks to dominate at the box office, before any other traditionally busy weekends get in the way. With the Oscars traditionally at the end of February, a horror/supernatural film released in January can have up to eight weeks to dominate before the post-Oscar surge splinters the box office.

Okay, that’s what I have for you on this first Tuesday of 2014. As always, I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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